Investigation, Arrest of Tennessee Man on Sex Crimes by AG’s Cyber Investigators Leads to 25-year Federal Prison Sentence
A 2017 investigation and arrest of an online predator by Attorney General Andy Beshear’s cyber team has led to a 25-year federal prison sentence.
In October of 2017, cyber investigators arrested Billie Gene Spears, of Jacksboro, Tennessee, 47, after he traveled to Frankfort seeking sex with a minor.
In securing the conviction of Spears Feb. 13, 2019, federal prosecutors used testimony and casework from Beshear’s Department of Criminal Investigations Cyber Crimes Unit who conducted an online undercover investigation before arresting Spears.
Spears was sentenced by United States District Judge Gregory F. Van Tatenhove for crossing a state line with the intent to engage in a sexual act with a person who was under the age of 12.
“Our office works with local, state and federal law enforcement officials to ensure our communities and children are safe,” Beshear said. “I want to thank federal and state prosecutors and local and federal agencies who share our priority to protect children from sexual abuse and take those who are exploiting children off the streets.”
The case started in state court, and Beshear said he appreciates the Franklin Commonwealth’s Attorney who agreed to forego state prosecution in favor of federal court, where seeking sex with a minor carries stronger penalties.
Beshear said the federal conviction was led by the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky and United States Secret Service. He said the Frankfort Police Department was also critical to the case.
Beshear’s cyber investigators focus on arresting predators who seek to harm children in Kentucky communities and on the internet.
The Cyber Crimes Unit has some of the best and most modern digital forensic investigation capabilities. These include collecting evidential documentation and files from a variety of devices, including damaged, password protected, erased or hidden information.
This evidence collection can be done within the unit’s cyber lab, or in the field to meet the demands of an extenuating circumstance. The office’s forensic detectives not only support the office’s needs, but support local, state and federal law enforcement agencies that do not have their own cyber investigation and forensic capabilities.
Over the past three years, the number of arrests, indictments and convictions by Beshear’s cyber investigators has reached historic levels, totaling more than 150.
Beshear said that Kentuckians have a moral and legal duty to report any instance of child abuse to local law enforcement or to Kentucky’s Child Abuse hotline at 877-597-2331 or 877-KYSAFE1.